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Culture, Music

If You Can’t Join Them

by Nathan Zeno / 29.06.2009

Yesterdays Pupil’s music video for “Lines and Colours” has been rejected by MK on the grounds that it contains a drug reference. MK is the only music television channel that matters right now in South Africa. While we appreciate the fact that MK is aimed at 13-18 olds and being a commercial enterprise has to be careful about offending it’s consumers’ moms (who pay the subscription fee) we have to ask ourselves, where do they draw the line on inclusion and rejection?

The offending lyric in the song is “The chemicals in my brain says I like you, like you like cocaine”. A parallel is being drawn between the chemical process of falling for someone and the chemical process of liking a drug. The song does not advocate drug use. There are no judgments or recommendations inherent in this statement. But we must protect the children. Because as we all know introducing a concept to a young mind means they will have no choice but to make the wrong decision, right? And the concept here is cocaine, not love or infatuation, correct? In fact “Lines and Colours” lyrically and musically is probably a strong argument for natural highs over the instant gratification of drug use, if you want to read into it that deeply. But it seems that in thinking of the children we have to assume that they do not have the power to think for themselves. Which is why it’s safe to bombard them with the concept of “fokofpolisiekar”.

We at mahala believe that people of all ages should have the basic right to make choices for themselves. But mostly we’re just bummed that some kif South African music won’t see the light of day because of a relatively verkrampt mind set that amounts to censorship. It’s kind of what we expect from the SABC. We have sent some questions through to MK asking for their reasons behind this decision but until they respond we ask you to enjoy the video for “Lines and Colours” by Yesterday’s Pupil And while you do so think on this. If a musician has to create music based on a guideline, whether it be for TV or radio, then how can they truly express themselves. How can culture talk freely to society? And how then can we expect to hear anything new, original or relevant?

And while we’re at it, let’s just compile a quick list off the top of our heads of some of the other songs that have made it into the canon of global pop hits with dubious drug references:

Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash
Cocaine – JJ Cale (covered more famously by Eric Clapton)
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles
Purple Haze – Jimmy Hendrix
Much of Bob Marley’s lyrical content
Smoke 2 Joints – Sublime
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Because I Got High – Afroman

Yesterdays Pupil “Error of Enthusiasm” is available at Musica and is selling quite nicely thank you, even if TuksFM is refusing to play “Lines and Colours” for the same reason.

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